Why DO Assemblies take longer to open over the network??

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE updated August 2, 2011


If you have ever had to wait a painfully long period of time for a large assembly to open while loading the files from a network location, you’ve likely asked this question.  We had the opportunity at SolidWorks World 2011 to find out exactly why this is.  The following details are courtesy of Mark Johnson, one of the Senior Technical Support Engineers at SolidWorks.

Most simply put, the “path” that files have to follow to open from a local hard drive is as follows:
− Harddrive -> (Mainboard) Southbridge – > CPU – > (Mainboard) Northbridge – > Ram – and OPEN!

If you then compare this against the file path when opening a file from the network:
− Ethernet Card – > Router\switch\hub -> Server -> Server HD ->Server Southbridge -> Server CPU -> Server Northbridge -> Server RAM -> Router\switch\hub -> Ethernet Card -> Southbridge ->CPU ->Northbridge -> Ram -> and Finally OPEN!    (I’m exhausted just reading the path….)

Obviously the trip is far longer, encountering many stops along the route. Additionally during the trip, data is broken up into ‘packets’ and forced to send an additional 20% overhead of data for each packet, which contains the information required to re-assemble the data at the destination.

IMPORTANT NOTE! − Many Antivirus applications treat network files differently which can also add additional load time as they are being scanned each and every time they are accessed, affecting not only load times, but save times as well.

At this point I am certain you are asking, “OK Chris…we get it…but what’s your point”?

The main point being, when troubleshooting any assembly related issue you may encounter, the first step along the path to diagnosing the trouble should be loading the assembly locally (totally from your local hard drive – use File menu> Find References to verify) and re-testing the issue.  If the behavior changes, it is safe to say that something between you and your server may be the culprit.

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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.